Favorite type of climbing (bouldering, sports climbing, trad, etc.):
I am an All-arounder. I regularly participate in all of the above mentioned as well as winter climbing and its' disciplines: ice, mixed, and alpine. For me, each type provides different types of problem solving, satisfaction and joy. The fact that I have always enjoyed winter plays well into being able to climb outside year round.
When and how did you get into climbing and what kept you interested / fascinated in the sport?
I began rock climbing in the fall of 1988 while living in Boulder, for college. I learned to climb in Eldorado and Boulder Canyon by following traditional routes and then leading them, grade by grade.
I would have to say the mental aspect of climbing is what sets it apart from all other sports or physical activities I have done. This is what has kept my interest, my fascination and my love for climbing intact for this long. There is so much potential for thoughtfulness and focus while climbing. Being able to have these moments while also being in such a physical state creates a unique combination for me. Movement, imagination, climbing feeds my Soul.
Who was your childhood hero and do you consider yourself a role model now? Does it influence you at all that other people look up to you?
I am not sure about the childhood hero. Probably my Grandfather. He was always kind to people, no matter who it was. He took care of his family.
I do consider myself a role model. Both of my children grew up playing soccer, lacrosse, and climbing. I coached them in all three of these sports and I still coach the older, competitive kids in our area. I feel strongly that these kids did not meet me just so that I can coach them. Succeeding in life will help one to become a better climber more than being a good climber will help one to succeed in life. Climbing is a bit selfish, and certainly, life success is more important. These kids need to know this earlier than later.
I recently turned 50 and am stronger and climbing as hard as I ever have. I suppose it is good for aging people to see this. It is not necessary to keep getting stronger, but I do think it is important, very important, to keep moving and to continue to overcome challenges as we age.
What were the most important milestones in your life so far, both in climbing and in everyday life? Did you immediately recognize them as such or only later on?
In life... My most important milestones were the birth of my children. Schuyler (Sky), my son, is 25. Marlee, my daughter, is almost 22. I immediately recognized the importance of these two, and I put effort in every day to make sure that they know they are loved.
In climbing... Realizing that with good footwork, one can get climbing shoes to stick almost anywhere, well placed gear in good rock or good ice, will hold falls, and that belayers should be more than just ballast are a few important milestones. These were recognized quite quickly.
What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?
Failures and setbacks.. I have had plenty in life and in climbing. Learning to find proper motivation to try again and then again and again if need be, has been paramount for me to keep pushing for so long. I feel strongly that if I am to succeed with my climbing, I must succeed in my life. They are connected.
In April of 2004, my left mid-foot was crushed in a mixed climbing accident in East Vail. 7 bones in my mid foot were broken or crushed. For almost 5 months, I was in an external fixator and was not allowed to place my foot on the ground. Once the bones healed, I still needed crutches for 2 months, then a cane for a month, then a limp. 18 months later, I was cleared for all activities. Even then, it took me a couple of years to drop the irrational fears that accompanied such a horrible accident. My love for climbing is what got me through this period. Slowly, as my body healed, so did my Spirit for climbing.
What is your favorite climbing related story / experience?
Too many to say. Probably why climbing means so much to me... Each day of climbing has the potential to be such a good day, a day that I will remember, a day where I become more content.